Te Anau is the gateway to Milford Sound. We drove past it to make it to Milford the day before. The day after we saw Milford, after a coooold night camping, we went to visit a friend, Laura, who is working there in the glow worm caves as a tour guide. We had to stop and say hello. We met her next to a sculpture of a takahe (a big blue flightless bird only found in New Zealand) and headed to the Sandfly Cafe. Over a deilcious breakfast and cups of tea/ coffee, we caught up on each other’s lives.
It was the best part of the Milford Sound experience. After we parted ways, Eamonn and I set off down the Southern Scenic route towards Riverton where we would be staying the night with our former housemates twin. Along the way we stopped and hiked a bit of the Kepler Track (one of the Great Walks). It is the only loop Great Walk. Part of the reason we stopped to check the Kepler out was because it crossed a river that was used in Lord of the Rings filming. The River Anduin no less. It actually looked like the shots from the movies. It wasn’t hard at all to imagine the fellowship in their elven canoes rowing towards their eventual parting of ways. About an hour along the track were the wetlands that were used as the Dead Marshes. I had to see those too since we were so close. Those were a little harder to envision Frodo, Gollum and Sam tip-toeing through, but it was a beautiful wetland anyway.
We had our lunch in the parking lot and then continued on the Scenic drive. We are starting to suspect that New Zealand maps and government call non main roads Scenic to get more tourist traffic and help the economy of little towns along the way. Nothing wrong if that is the case, but it’s just an interesting observation/ theory.
The most beautiful part of the drive, in my opinion, was when we made it back to the coast. The sun was setting and it was beautiful. Parts of the area looked a bit like West Ireland as well, which was a fun thought.
We made it to Riverton after dark. Our former housemate, Steph’s, twin was home to greet us with chili con carne. It was hearty and delicious and completely unexpected. Ally, our host, is a vet tech and lives with two full vets from England and Scotland. They were also very welcoming and we enjoyed our dinner with good conversation. They had to be up early and we were tired from our previous night of camping in the COLD so we all headed to bed rather early.
The next morning was the day to head to Winton and our next WWOOF hosts!